GVMH and The Henry County Health Center along with the Missouri Hospital Association and the University of Missouri recently completed a formal study of the health of Henry, St. Clair and Benton Counties. The Missouri Hospital Association chose four areas across the state to perform the studies and we were fortunate that our area was chosen because it provides us with a great deal of data on how to better meet the health care needs of our community.
Over the next few days I’ll be sharing some of what was learned in the study so check back over the next few days to see all the great information that was collected. Before you ask, I am only blogging info about Henry County but it’s clear that the three counties mentioned above have similar issues. The next two posts will focus exclusively on behavioral health, we’ll get into the physical health issues later.
About Henty County:
Located in Southwest Missouri, Henry County has a population of 22,272. Among Missouri’s 114 counties plus the city of St. Louis, Henry County ranks 52nd in terms of population. Henry County’s unemployment rate in 2010 was 10.07%. This was higher than the statewide unemployment rate of 9.60%. In 2009, the poverty rate for Henry County was 18.3%. This was higher than the statewide poverty rate of 14.6%. Henry County is not considered a primary healthcare shortage area and is considered a mental health professional shortage area by the Health Resources and Services Administration. Other shortages may exist for low-income populations.
Substance Use and Abuse in Henry County
The availability of county-level data on substance use and abuse is limited. The Missouri Student Survey can provide estimates for youth in most Missouri counties. This survey is administered in even-numbered years to 6th through 12th grade students in participating school districts.
In Henry County, 66.51% of youth believe that it would be easy to get cigarettes and 57.27% have friends who smoke. The Healthy People 2020 has established objectives to reduce tobacco initiation and use by adolescents and adults. An estimated 65.49% youth in Henry County believe that it would be easy to get alcohol and 68.30% have friends who drink alcohol. Youth who use alcohol are at greater risk of developing abuse problems later in life. In Henry County, 46.39% of youth believe that it would be easy to get marijuana and 26.70% of youth believe that it would be easy to get other drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and ecstasy. Missouri youth tend to perceive marijuana as being safer than other illegal drugs and safer than tobacco.
In Southwest Missouri, an estimated 6.95% of residents age 12 and over use illegal drugs and 8.28% are abusing alcohol. Public safety, health care, crime, and public assistance are among the areas impacted by substance abuse. In 2009, Henry County had 27 alcohol-related traffic crashes. This is lower than that for 2008 (34). Of the 2009 alcohol-related crashes, 0 crashes resulted in the loss of life. Another 13 resulted in injuries. Alcohol-related crashes are more likely to produce fatalities and injuries compared to non-alcohol-related crashes.
In 2009, Henry County had 98 DUI arrests, 121 liquor law violations, and 152 drug arrests. Henry County had 21 methamphetamine laboratory seizures in 2009. The manufacture of methamphetamine has been particularly problematic for rural Missouri.